What is a Credit Freeze?
In late September 2018 credit report freezes became free for Americans. Congress moved an inch and amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act to finally remove the cost of freezing and unfreezing credit reports.
What is a credit freeze?
According to the Federal Trade Commission, this free tool lets you restrict access to your credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. That’s because most creditors need to see your credit report before they approve a new account. If they can’t see your report, they may not extend the credit.
Congress made this change after Equifax’s historic blunder, where the company leaked about 150 million individuals’ personal information. For the sake of simplicity, let us say America’s population is about 300 million – it’s basic math to see that one out of two Americans have been affected by Equifax’s huge data leak.
A credit freeze does not affect your credit score
In addition to being free, a credit freeze doesn’t affect your credit score.
A credit freeze also does not:
- prevent you from getting your free annual credit report
- keep you from opening a new account, applying for a job, renting an apartment, or buying insurance. But if you’re doing any of these, you’ll need to lift the freeze temporarily, either for a specific time or for a specific party, say, a potential landlord or employer. It’s free to lift the freeze and free to place it again when you’re done accessing your credit.
- prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.
You can freeze your credit report permanently or temporarily, and you can even temporarily unfreeze your credit report for a short timeframe. This is a great way to protect yourself from identity fraud or stop ongoing fraud from proceeding any further.
Freeze your credit, clean up your online footprints
Dealing with identity theft is a terrible thing. Most fraudsters get their information digitally however, so removing your personal information from Google, Facebook, and other websites is highly recommended. Yes, you may be dealing with financial institutions and police reports, but don’t forget about the source of the problem.
Wiperts deals with personal information removal, the exact same personal information that identity fraudsters and criminals use to commit crimes using your good name. Personal information is generally static and non-changing, so even if you deal with one fraudster, another fraudster can steal your information and start stealing your money all over again. Freezing your credit and using Wiperts to remove your personal information from the internet will provide you two layers of protection.
Freezing your credit
There are three major credit reporting bureaus. For your convenience, their contact information is listed below:
For the most part, freezing and unfreezing your credit is fairly easy. There are automated ways (online and by phone) and traditional customer support methods that you can use (snail mail, email, and by calling).